You may have the best security software and hardware deployed in your home and office, but if someone can easily guess your passwords, you’ve left the worst possible hole for hackers.
Strong passwords should be the norm. Too many people don’t take password selection seriously and open up to the easier method hackers use to compromise your data. You might laugh when you read that many people use the word password as their account password. If you are one of those people who use “password”, sorry, but read on. Another common use is the series of numbers: 123456. Many sites that do not require strong passwords will require at least six characters, so that is why some lazily choose sequences of six numbers.
Hackers break into systems and easily guess some passwords, and in the case of others, they will run password-cracking software. A password cracking program will run through a dictionary, common password phrases, and birth date combinations. Once a password is cracked, it is vulnerable to loss of privacy, identity, and financial theft. The hacker could use your computer to victimize other computers.
Here are some tips to improve your use of passwords.
1. The longer the password, the better. You may be concerned about remembering a longer password, but there is a trick you can use. Try to create a phrase that you can easily remember and use the first letter of the phrase. If you add some numbers or characters, you will have really increased the strength. Here is an example of that technique. Say you love your mother’s cooking and who doesn’t? “I love my mom’s cooking no matter what she does!” Ilmmcnmwsm! If you capitalize the letter I, followed by lowercase letters, and exclaim at the end, you have created a password that is quite difficult to crack.
2. Do not use text found in the dictionary. A password cracking program can execute millions of words in seconds. I’ve seen them work, as part of my computer forensics training. Some password cracking programs are freely available on the Internet, and others are sold, which can crack specific programs.
3. I know you may not want to, but change your passwords regularly. Some recommend that you do it every two to three months. Set a reminder on your calendar schedule.
4. If a hacker receives a password reset link, they will guess the answers to your security phrases. If you choose the simple ones, then you just made the hackers’ task a bit easier. The vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin’s email, was reported to have been hacked because the hacker had done some research on her. The report said she knew her zip code, date of birth, and where she met her husband.
There are some software tools and hardware devices that can help you protect your passwords. I will write about some of them in a future article. For now, use the best passwords you can and make them strong.